In Turkey, 74.1% of children between three and six years of age develop dental caries.
To assess the depth of oral health and dental knowledge among paediatricians in Turkey, to determine their level of oral health education and to determine factors that were associated with higher knowledge scores.
A cross-sectional survey of demographics that assessed the participants’ knowledge of oral and dental health, attitudes regarding oral health during well-child visits and opinions regarding infant oral health care visits was conducted. The outcome variables were the proportions of paediatricians who adhered to good clinical practice guidelines, recommended dental visits for children younger than one year of age, and having a knowledge score >50%.
The participant characteristics that were significantly associated with a greater mean number of correct answers were female sex, good clinical practice, confidence in detecting dental caries and the presence of a dentistry department in their hospital (P=0.001, P<0.001, P<0.001 and P=0.02, respectively). Only 13.9% of paediatricians referred children younger than one year of age to a dentist. After adjusting for the level of oral health education received during residency training, sex and having children, only the knowledge score was significantly associated with referring patients younger than one year of age to a dentist (P=0.01).
Some paediatricians’ knowledge was found to be associated with practices that were in accordance with professional society recommendations. The lack of dental knowledge and training in residency limits the paediatricians’ role in promoting children’s oral health in daily practice.